While tonight was supposed to be a welcome back party for Chase Utley, who returned after 43 games on the disabled list, it was Carlos Ruiz, Placido Polanco, and Roy Oswalt who stole the show.
The recent Phillies hero Chooch went 2-3, with two pivotal RBIs and also scoring two runs. Polanco hit four singles in five at-bats and scored a run.
And Oswalt pitched seven innings and gave up three earned runs on six hits and struck out seven. It looked as if it might be a long night for Oswalt after gave up a lead off double to Andres Torres followed by a single by catcher Buster Posey. With a runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs, Aubrey Huff grounded into a double play which scored Torres from third. The next batter, the one and only Pat “the Bat” Burrell, blasted a solo home run to left field, a sight Phillies fans were able to witness 250+ times during his time in Philadelphia.
Oswalt was able to settle down after the first, as he didn’t allow a runner past second base until the top of the 7th inning, when Jose Guillen hit a solo homer to deep left for the Giants third run of the game.
Giants’ starter Barry Zito coasted through the first four innings, and it looked as though the Phillies weren’t going to figure him out until the fifth and sixth innings in which they scored two runs in both frames. In the bottom of fifth inning, Jimmy Rollins singled home Mike Sweeney and Ruiz to tie the game at 2-2. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Shane Victorino doubled to score Polanco and Jayson Werth to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead.
After the aforementioned solo homer by Giants’ right fielder Jose Guillen, the Phillies entered the 8th inning with a 4-3 lead. Reliever Ryan Madson came in for the Phils and was able to shut down the Giants in the top of the frame. The flood-gates opened for the Phillies offense in the bottom of the 8th, after they scored five runs on four hits and a throwing error by Giants’ second baseman Mike Fontenot, making it a 9-3 Phillies lead. Chad Durbin closed out the game in the ninth.
In his debut off of the DL, Utley struggled and went 0-5 at the plate. He was also picked off at third while attempting to steal on a bobbled ball by Giants catcher Buster Posey.
While tonight may have been a disappointment for Chase and his fans, it was certainly encouraging that the rest of the Phils’ lineup was still able to take care of business as they have during the last few weeks without the ‘big guns.’ They’ll get more reinforcements later on this week, as slugging first baseman Ryan ‘Big Piece’ Howard is due to return from his stint on the DL after spraining his ankle.
The Phillies took sole possession of first place in the NL Wildcard with tonight’s win (they technically were in first by mere percentage points since yesterday), and now lead the Giants by one game. However, they still remain 2.5 games out of first for the NL East division lead with the Atlanta Braves winning over the Washington Nationals 10-2.
The Phillies’ Joe Blanton will face off against Giants’ starter Matt Cain tomorrow night as the Phils look to cut back on the Braves’ division lead, while gaining a cushion in the Wildcard standings.
Pat Burrell had a good return to Philadelphia. After being welcomed by a large ovation, Burrell popped a homer into the seats in left in his first at bat.